In this course, we will study Zionist history during the crucial century from the founding of the modern movement to create a Jewish state in 1897 through the mid-1990’s. We shall do so by examining six great leaders: Theodor Herzl, who convened the First Zionist Congress; Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder and leader of Revisionist Zionism; David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister; Golda Meir, a key figure in establishing the state; Menachem Begin, Jabotinsky’s successor and a prime minister who left an enduring legacy; and Yitzhak Rabin, who as prime minister sought to secure peace with Israel’s neighbors.
In each session, we will look at how a particular leader addressed a situation calling for a strategic decision and bold action. We shall do so through close reading of a great speech that leader gave, alongside the circumstances that made that moment so decisive and the consequences of the leader’s words and actions. In the seventh and final session, we will draw lessons on oratory, leadership, and nation building.
Dr. Daniel Polisar
Daniel Polisar is the co-founder and executive vice president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Israel’s first liberal arts college. He previously served as the president of the Shalem Center from 2002-2013 and also as its director of research, academic director, and editor-in-chief of its journal, Azure. From 2006 to 2009, he served as the founding chairman, within the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister, of the National Council for the Commemoration of the Legacy of Theodor Herzl. Dr. Polisar received his BA in politics from Princeton University and his PhD in government from Harvard University, where he was the recipient of Truman and Fulbright scholarships, as well as of a Mellon Fellowship. His research interests include Zionist history and thought, Israeli constitutional development, and the history and philosophy of higher education.